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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Carmen Farina Purging Strategy - Teachers, Parents, Children. Anyone Who Gets in Her Way

Carmen Farina
The news story posted below is a big yawn.

Carmen has been talking about 'bad' teachers and how she is getting rid of them since I first met her at PS 6 in 1997.

How does she do it? She harasses people she doesn't like so that they resign, transfer, move out of State, retire, anything. Carmen, in my opinion, is obsessive about success. I saw her scrubbing grades, giving the smartest kids double time on standardized tests so that PS 6 test results were the best and getting bester. She hates to be wrong or to fail at what she has set her heart to do, and if you get in her way, watch out.  I know. I did.
angry Carmen Farina
One of my fondest memories was, after I asked questions about where the $225,000 in arts money was, that she had control over but was not given to arts programs at PS 6 and our sister school PS 198, Carmen was removed from PS 6 in 2001.

Then I decided to run for PTA President against extremely unpopular Corporation Counsel Attorney and parent, Jane Gordon. We had a PTA meeting in the PS 6 auditorium so that Jane and I could discuss our platforms, and as I started to give my 'campaign speech', the door in the back of the auditorium opened, and at first I didnt know who the woman was who was screaming about me  and my "maligning her name". But as this woman got down to the front row of seats and sat down with her arms crossed and pouted as if she was a member of the kindergarten who was not allowed to have any cookies at recess, I realized it was Carmen. There was a silence in the room for several seconds....minutes? Until I said, "any questions?"...ready to have Carmen stand up and shout horrible things at me. She didnt. Jane won, then was removed by her own PTA Board mid-year. They hated her.

The attack on you will be deliberate, mean, and long. She wont give up until she has you in her crosshair and the arrows ready to shoot.

Being afraid of Carmen shouldnt be in your playbook. She thinks she is scary, but she is instead a grandmother trying to make chocolate cake out of vanilla beans.

Always tell the truth.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice

The Fariña method of purging bad teachers

Carmen Fariña has been talking a lot about bad teachers recently.
The schools chancellor, who defined her first year on the job as a mission to restore “joy” and “respect” to the classroom, has, of late, been encouraging hundreds of city principals to identify and get rid of their weakest teachers.
“The teachers who are not up to the job, you’ve got to get them out the door,” Fariña said to a large group of high school principals at a conference in late February.
“Who are the teachers, if you had this wonderful grandchild, you would not want to see your grandchild in that teachers’ classroom,” Fariña told an audience of elementary school principals a few days earlier.
In an interview with Capital last week, Fariña said asking principals to weed out their weakest teachers has been her “first statement when I get into any school visit. ... I repeat it over and over again."
Removing ineffective teachers has been one of the Department of Education’s most intractable problems, and decades of mayors and chancellors have advanced their own reforms on how to get it done with the looming presence of the United Federation of Teachers.
Fariña has repeatedly said she believes new provisions in the U.F.T. contract will help get weak teachers out of the classroom, including moving teachers out of the Absent Teacher Reserve (A.T.R.), a controversial pool of teachers who have been removed from the classroom but remain on the payroll. Separately, the U.F.T. contract includes a new definition of sexual misconduct aimed at getting potentially dangerous teachers fired.
She’s also repeatedly reminded principals that teachers with two “ineffective” ratings can be removed from teaching more quickly.
But she’s also been promoting her own tried and true method for getting rid of bad teachers—relentless monitoring of problem teachers and rounds of conversations convincing teachers they are in the wrong profession. The desired result is settling on inventive alternatives for teachers willing to be cajoled, or forcing out the ones who aren't.
"There is an opportunity to leave gracefully or not so gracefully," Fariña told Capital. 
According to Fariña, and to well-documented Upper East folklore, that method was effective at P.S. 6, the Manhattan school Fariña ran in the 1990s, which has long been considered one of the city’s best public schools.
Now, she’s telling principals it can work for the city’s roughly 1,799 other public schools, too.
“I had three teachers who I went for total removal with,” Fariña told Capital of her tenure at P.S. 6.
She rattled off examples of other teachers for whom she found creative solutions.
She managed to get a six-month suspension for one of her weakest teachers, she remembered, and then won another suspension with a series of letters about the teacher’s performance.
“Then I got her out of the system,” Fariña said.
Another problem teacher struggled with every subject except for science, so Fariña secured her a job as a science teacher at a middle school. And still another teacher was good with children but not moving the needle for them academically, so Fariña convinced her to retire, then hired her back to work two days a week.
Asked to describe the Fariña method for pushing out bad teachers, the chancellor said, “It means you, as an administrator, have to be in that teachers’ classroom on a regular basis, keeping records, taking notes.”
Fariña has appointed a D.O.E. official whose primary role is instructing principals on how to properly write letters about certain teachers to keep in their files.
“I don’t think most ineffective teachers want to fail,” Fariña said, adding that principals should try “being blunt with them and saying ‘we don’t think this is your career.’”
Fariña has brought her P.S. 6 tips and tricks to the chancellorship, picking out struggling teachers during her frequent school visits and advising her principals on how to remove them.
Referencing a recent school visit, Fariña said, “I literally told the principal, ‘I will be back at the end of April, and so-and-so better not be here.’”
Another principal invited Fariña back to her school to show that a teacher Fariña was worried about had recently resigned.
But Fariña’s critics have said that despite her rhetoric, the chancellor has not done enough to ensure that ineffective and dangerous teachers are removed quickly.
"If chancellor Fariña and Mayor de Blasio are serious about getting bad teachers out of city classrooms, there is a simple solution: support Governor [Andrew] Cuomo's proposed education reforms,” Jenny Sedlis, executive director of the group StudentsFirst, one of the administration’s most frequent critics, said in a statement on Monday. “Instead they are bowing to special interest pressures, which is why they need to use empty rhetoric instead of taking real action."
Cuomo has proposed an expedited process for 3020-a cases, the legal forums for teachers accused of ineffectiveness or misconduct to plead their side. The governor has called the 3020-a process "broken." In some instances, a single case can drag on for years and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Of the three teachers she had to force out of the profession, Fariña admitted, “that took a lot of time.”
The new U.F.T. contract does not contain any substantive changes to the 3020-a process. 
Reform and pro-charter groups have accused the administration of being too accommodating of the U.F.T.; Fariña insisted the union was not interfering with her plans for firing ineffective teachers. “We have worked very collaboratively with the U.F.T.,” she said, adding, “If I’m getting pushback from the U.F.T. [on individual teachers] I or someone on my team is going to get involved.”
“We know that our relationship is partners when necessary, adversaries when necessary,” she said of the union.
At the three recent conferences, Fariña plied principals with some creative ways of moving weak teachers into new roles. “For those of you who are at large middle schools, consider giving up a full-time teaching position, and get a part-time reading specialist or specialist on organizational skills,” she said.
Fariña asked principals to play to teachers’ strengths, and suggested one way to get inventive with U.F.T. work rules. “Teachers have to work six hours and twenty minutes, but no one says what those hours have to be,” she told the middle school principals. “If you have teachers that are particularly good at helping struggling kids, having some of them come in earlier for the kids start their school day and having them leave earlier is perfectly okay.” Fariña added that she had five teachers use flexible scheduling at P.S. 6.
But she has been blunt about the end goal. Speaking before elementary school principals in February, she said, “we’re working very hard to make sure that two “ineffectives” in a row move teachers in a different direction. But it's your paperwork that’s going to make that happen, because you don’t want to say five years from now ‘I wish I had done that then.’”